U.S. e-tailer Amazon has unveiled plans for what it calls, a drone fulfillment centre, structured in the form of a beehive.
According to a patent filed with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and published last week, the retail giant aims to construct multi-level fulfillment centres around the world designed to handle the landing and take-off of drones (unmanned aerial vehicles).
The move follows from the company’s previous Prime Air service that was designed to send out drone deliveries in under 30 minutes.
Amazon claims that the tower would be particularly useful in densely populated areas, such as Manhattan, London, and Tokyo. However, several regulatory hurdles would have to be overcome before it could start building the towers, should it decide to push ahead with the concept.
In the patent filing, Amazon said that: "A multi-level (ML) fulfillment center is designed to accommodate landing and takeoff of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), possibly in an urban setting, such as in a densely populated area.
Pigeon loft similarities
"Unlike traditional fulfillment centers, the ML fulfillment centers may include many levels (i.e., stories, floors, etc.) as permitted under zoning regulations for respective areas. The fulfillment center may have one or more landing locations and one or more deployment locations to accommodate UAVs, which may deliver at least some of the items from the fulfillment center to locations associated with customers."
Amazon has considered various formats for expanded warehouse networks, including flying warehouses, mobile truck-based mini warehouses, underwater warehouses and local re-stocking stations for drones. It filed at least 78 logistics patents applications in 2016, an all-time high, and that number will likely rise, a CBS report said.
Own courier service in Japan targeted
In a separate development, Nikkei Asian Review said that Amazon Japan is reportedly looking to build up a network of independent couriers in the Tokyo region, in order to reduce its dependence on the major parcel delivery companies.
The publication said that Amazon is looking to build up “a team of 10,000 independent couriers in the Tokyo region by 2020.″
As reported earlier by CargoForwarder Global, Japan's leading parcel operator Yamato is facing major capacity constraints in its network caused by the pressure of meeting the voracious demand for same-day delivery from Amazon’s customers.
The Nikkei Asian Review report said that the logistics company Maruwa Unyu Kikan will organise the couriers in the Tokyo region. The article also noted that there are more than 150,000 mini-truck courier businesses in Japan, many of which are owned by sole proprietors.
Nol van Fenema